The metamorphosis of ‘publish or perish’? Science embraces transparency and teaches us a lesson in the misuse of data

Has scientific endeavour been constrained by the data used to evaluate its impact?  Has the cart been leading the horse all these years?  Perhaps surreptitiously steering?

Scientists are now taking back the reigns, shining the light of transparency and breaking free on the intranet of everything.

The Journal Impact factor is frequently used as the primary parameter with which to compare scientific output of individuals and institutions.  However, the Journal Impact Factor was originally created as a tool to help librarians identify journals to purchase, not as a measure of the scientific quality of research in an article.  The shortcomings in the evaluation include, among many  things, the fact that the data used to calculate the factor are not transparent nor are they publicly available.  You can read all about the problem and proposed solutions captured through the Declaration on Research Assessment (DoRA) here.

There is now a strong appetite to embrace the opportunity of online publishing and to provide greater access to outputs including to datasets.   Peer reviewed articles will still be of great importance, but other outputs, basic and enhanced work, some which are currently unknown of course, will rise to the fore thanks to the opportunity that technology and the internet of everything now provides.


My perspective – I see more great opportunities for communication and Communication to help change the world


Gluey take-aways:

  • Scientific outputs are many, varied, changing and will grow in importance in assessing research effectiveness in the future.
  • Give credit where credit is due is paramount in a collaborative network.  This principle is part of the declaration.  For scientists citing other’s work, credit original sources rather than reviews.  My data source is a review which is just fine for an opinion piece.
  • Giving credit is important in our collaborative enterprise networks too (something I push on our work platform).  And it just gives me great pleasure to trace the paths of ideas to the landing pad.      Thanks to Sandra and Adam, Francis, Dean for sparking various threads of curiosity that ultimately propelled me to dwell on this topic

Images from the recent Big Data exhibit at Somerset House, London

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